22 January 2013

Nigeria: Minister - State Inequalities Hamper MDG Gains

Inadequacies in states across the northeast and northwest are among factors that could impede Nigeria's progress toward achieving targets set in Millennium Development Goals, health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu has warned.

He has also sought support from the US Agency for International Development to deal with challenges impeding healthcare in the region, especially personnel.

"The issue of human resources is a problem," he said in talks with USAID administrator Dr Rajiv Shah at the weekend in Abuja.

"If you take the states in a single entity, we will achieve [Millennium Development Goals] MDGs. But as a country we may have problems with other aspects mainly because some are not moving as fast as others, particularly in the northeast and northwest zones.

"Maybe when you meet with your people you may need to do a lot of things there to support," Chukwu suggested, adding "We may develop good framework but we need to take cognizance of the challenges."

The challenges are reflected in targets that Nigeria has signed on to--including cutting down maternal and child deaths and reducing the incidence of preventable diseases by 2015.

Last year, it launched the Save One Million Lives campaign, under the auspices of the United Nations, to prevent at least a million deaths by providing access to affordable and effective services and medicine in basic health care, according to minister of state for health Muhammad Ali Pate.

The drugs are targeted at preventing likely causes of death, including bleeding during childbirth, anaemia, as well as treating diarrhoeal diseases and malaria--all of which contribute to high number of deaths and injuries among women and children.

Services will also include reproductive health interventions and commodities to enable women avoid unwanted pregnancies and plan their families better.

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